We care for our microbiome because it holds the key to activating inflammatory processes that cause many diseases. Including ocular ones
The microbiome is the set of microorganisms that live in the body and which are found in very diverse places such as the saliva or the conjunctiva, but especially in the gut. Whether they are bacteria, fungi or viruses, they are known to play a vital role in our life tasks; with the microbiome participating in processes such as digestion, the synthesis of vitamins and the regulation of inflammatory states. Our immune system and the microbiome maintain a constant dialogue, but when this relationship becomes unbalanced, it can lead to pathological processes starting.
Different factors can modify the microbiome throughout life and these include diet, which plays a very important role. Several pieces of research indicate that a poor diet can produce changes in the quantity and diversity of microorganisms in our gut and this encourages unhealthy conditions. A fibre-rich diet based on fruit, vegetables, pulses and whole grains, low in added sugars and with a small amount of red meat, will favour the health of our microbiome.
If we have a healthy microbiome, we can reduce the chances of triggering diseases for which we have a genetic predisposition. If it is not healthy, it can cause genetic risks to manifest themselves more easily. We know that it has an impact on neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's or Multiple Sclerosis.
In the field of ophthalmology, recent studies suggest that the microbiome may also play an important role in ocular diseases such as uveitis or exudative age-related macular degeneration (AMD). What remains to be demonstrated in many cases is whether the changes observed in the microbiota are the cause or the consequence of the disease, but it is believed that it may play a decisive role in regulating inflammatory states.
Today, World Microbiome Day, makes an international call for awareness of the importance of caring for this ecosystem that coexists with us. The Institut de la Màcula has added its voice to this initiative and is also working in conjunction with the Barcelona Macula Foundation and the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) to research into the effects that variations in the microbiome could have on age-related macular degeneration.